AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ENDINGS
This is only a partial list. Many of these are lifted from Chip Scanlan’s article “Putting Endings First” for the Poynter Institute and Don Murray’s Writing to Deadline: A Journalist at Work. In his book Murray continues by adding a list of endings that don’t work. In his New Yorker article Structure, John McPhee suggests to “look back upstream” when hunting for satisfying endings. that going further upstream helps in finding a satisfactory ending. “Run your eye up the page and the page before that,” he says. “You may see that your best ending is somewhere in there, that you were finished before you thought you were.”
Straight Sum Up
Perhaps the least satisfying of all the endings listed.
Sum Up, Point At the Horizon (SUPAH) or The Ancheta Ending
It’s a corny acronym, but I do really believe it is the best category of kicker listed because it elegantly sums up the entire article while giving it a bit of a send off. In an article describing how most people still find cryptocurrency too intimidating to send home, Andrew Ancheta ends with:
”Until cryptocurrency is as intuitive and reliable as Paypal, don’t expect to receive any birthday crypto from your relatives abroad.”
(Andrew is a friend who tends to consistently use this to great effect, so I’ve also dubbed it “The Ancheta Ending”)
"The anecdote is a brief story," Murray says. "It combines character, place, dialogue, action,
and reaction. It summarizes by implication and demonstration." BOOKENDS from an anecdote beginning.
"The writer uses a specific detail, a concrete image, a fact, a statistic to conclude the story by implication. The part stands for the whole and allows the reader to take a specific piece of information away with him,” Murray says.
"This ending allows the writer to stand back and let the camera focus on a significant person in the story," Murray says. See detail ending.
Narrative Quote Ending
Scanlan states that ”Most quotes in newspaper stories are contemporary, made usually in response to a reporter's questions, rather than narrative, those "made at the time of the events being described," a distinction James B. Stewart draws in ‘Follow the Story.’”
"A quotation in itself is a piece of information," Don Murray says. "Its authority comes from the speaker, not the reporter. It gives a sense of objectivity to the story, and it allows for a conclusion in a manner that the reader will
accept and believe. It lets the writer get out of the way."
"This ending allows the writer to stand back and let the reader see the story," Murray says.
Columnist Tommy Tomlinson coined this name in honor of a Charlotte Observer editor named Gary Schwab who taught him to look for the unexpected ending.
Quote Response Ending
“Just as we’re all dozing off because this thing has already been on for almost three hours, we’re back with future Baby in 1975, in the audience of that Broadway play that is confusingly also her life. Baby hangs around the theater afterwards to meet up with…Johnny! Who choreographed a musical, based on a book that Baby wrote about that one crazy summer at Kellerman’s! (So much for her becoming a surgeon, we guess?) Into this awkwardness enters Baby’s husband, who is not Johnny, and their child, and Johnny looks wistful, or maybe just confused as to how Dirty Dancing has managed to defy space-time and rip off La La Land. It’s an unnecessary, annoying coda to an unnecessary, annoying movie. And just when you think it’s over, Johnny says, “Hey. Keep on dancing.” We would prefer not to.”
Use a snappy metaphor. “Mr. Grubel may be counting on a return to the casino but if regulators have their way, it’s door will soon be shut.” (From the Economist).